Every year, Thanksgiving traffic seems to get more crowded and congested than the year before as families hit the road for the 4-day weekend to be with their loved ones. Last year, AAA estimated that over 90 million people traveled by car to reach their families for the year-end holidays. And that number could go up again this year. So having a safe and comfortable journey becomes as important as the destination itself. Here are some tips and recommendations to help prepare you for the long drive that promises feast, fun and football at the other end.
Check your vitals. Make sure tire pressure, oil and coolant are at the proper levels.
Clean Up. Give your car a good cleaning inside and out. Riding in a tidy car is always more enjoyable. Also, some studies show you’re less likely to get pulled over by the police if your car is clean.
Set Your Nav. Preset your final destination in your navigation system before hitting the road. Besides giving you the route, you’ll get an approximate arrival time, which will help you plan your departure.
All systems go. Make sure any and all driver-assistance systems (forward-collision warning, lane-change assist, electronic stability control) are turned on. These technologies are your extra sets of eyes and ears on the road.
The weather report. The last thing you want is to get caught in an unexpected winter storm in the middle of your journey. The Federal Highway Administration’s website is a valuable resource for road trippers and holiday travelers — www.fhwa.dot.gov/trafficinfo/index.htm. Or at least check your local weather app.
Be equipped for winter storms. For those living in colder climates, always be ready for rain, snow, ice or sleet. Remember, this is late November, so wintery conditions can happen any time. Make sure your car is equipped with jumper cables, flares, a flashlight, hand warmers, a window scraper and chains for your tires.
Jack to the rescue. Your tire jack needs to be in good working order. Double-check it.
Underpack. You’ll be glad you did for many reasons. First of all, it’s only 4 days … you don’t need all that stuff. Secondly, the more cargo space you use, the less passenger room you’ll have. And lastly, the heavier the vehicle, the more gas it guzzles.
Talk safe. Don’t ‘talk and drive’ on your mobile without Bluetooth. Hands-free is the only way to go.
Buckle up. Everyone should be strapped in when the vehicle is in motion. A no-brainer.
Take breaks. Most major interstates have rest stops at regular intervals. Use these facilities to recharge and refresh for the long haul. Switching drivers every couple of hours also results in more alertness behind the wheel.
Watch your speed. First and foremost, driving too fast can be dangerous. But also keep in mind you can get a hefty ticket for speeding. Stay safe and avoid fines by keeping your right foot in check.
Avoid overeating. Eating too much can make you tired and sluggish, which can make your drive back home challenging. Thanksgiving leftovers are great, but perhaps not 30 minutes before you get on the road.
Don’t drink and drive! It’s plain stupid. ‘Nuff said.